Nathan Sisk is taking on a new challenge at the end of this month.
Most people know him as the senior emergency preparedness coordinator at the Monticello Xcel Energy Nuclear Generating Plant, but for the past year he has been training for something that has to do with another kind of coordination.
Sisk is training for an American Ninja Warrior competition.
He lives in Foley, but he travels to Maple Grove on certain days of the week to train at the Ninjas United gym. He also trains at his home gym.
“I started training in June of last year,” Sisk said. “One of the things that I like about it, is that it’s always changing. With any sport you play you’re doing the same thing repetitively. But one of the aspects of ninja that makes it unique is that you’re never doing the same thing exactly twice. You might see an obstacle you’ve never touched before and you have to problem solve and strategize as you go.”
Sisk joined the United States Air Force straight out of high school and that’s what really made him interested in athletics.
He joined the Air Force, ran a few half marathons, participated in cross-fit training, and has now made his way to Ninja Warrior competitions.
The successful show on NBC, American Ninja Warrior, has branched out and now offers competitions state to state.
The Ninja Warrior website states that men and women from around the country come and compete to reach the same goal of reaching the top of Mount Midorriyama on the famous obstacle course. It tests people’s strength and endurance in an entertaining way.
Sisk described Ninja Warrior in a different way. He said, “The show has been on for about 11 years, but people are not so much focused on the show now. Instead it’s more of a sport.”
Sisk said it’s based around obstacle course racing and it’s a lot of upper body strength and the occasional agility and lower body strength.
Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association is the biggest organization that has had competitions across the country. The 2019 World’s was just held in Prior Lake last week. The UNAA style competitions have the athletes complete 10 obstacles and you get a point for each obstacle you complete and then they add your finishing time onto that score.
National Ninja League is another nonprofit organization that focuses on the ability to finish the obstacle course. If you fall at any time while competing you are immediately disqualified.
Sisk said that the NNL is more competitive, but it makes you really think about what you signed up for. It weeds out the athletes who aren’t willing to commit.
“All the training and the money you’re paying to compete, it’s not fun to fall early on,” Sisk said.
Sisk’s first Ninja Warrior competition taught him a lot. He competed in an NNL competition in November 2018 and he took second to last place; 41st place out of 42 contestants.
It’s been a learning process.
His most recent competition was two weeks ago and the competition was much more stiff. Sisk was going head to head against UNAA Ninja Warrior world finalists. He took 21st place out of 34 contestants.
“I thought that was great,” Sisk said. “The difference between me and the top 10 was time. So at least I was performing at that level and I was able to compete. It’s nice to see that growth and I’m excited for my next competition.”
Sisk’s final goal is to be on the televised show and qualify for worlds.
In his free time Sisk finds happiness in spending time with his family. He has three kids – 10-year-old and 8-year-old daughters and a five-year-old son – and a girlfriend of three years.
“They keep me busy, especially trying to work full time, raising three kids full time, ninja training full time, and school full time.”
He’s currently attending American Military University working on his third degree in business entrepreneurship.
“It’s all online so it allows me to write a paper between training for ninja warrior and cooking dinner,” Sisk said.
Sisk said that he’s learned a lot in his 32 years, but one thing ninja has specifically taught him is the importance of meeting new people and being a part of a community.
“Ninja is such a welcoming community,” Sisk said. “Even though it’s a competition, there’s so much camaraderie in the sport that you can sit there and strategize with your competitors. You’re standing on the sideline cheering someone along who you’re hoping you do better than. You know? And then you’re disappointed when they fall.”
Sisk is competing next at Ninjas United in Maple Grove on Saturday, Aug. 24.